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Portal Statue Pairs

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"Long have I desired to look upon the kings of old... my kin."
"'Behold the Argonath, the Pillars of the Kings!' cried Aragorn.' ... As Frodo was borne towards them the great pillars rose like towers to meet him. Giants they seemed to him, vast grey figures silent but threatening. ... Upon great pedestals... stood two great kings of stone..."

Since ancient times, mankind seems fascinated with creating pairs of impressive statuary to flank and "guard" gateways, archways, or entrances of important buildings or areas. They may stand silent vigil over the entrance to a Temple of Doom, an Interdimensional Portal, a Place of Power... or just the entrance to a city, plaza, library, or other important area. These edifices are meant to invoke a sense of awe and wonder, and perhaps also dread and introspection, upon those who pass between them. These can be actual Gate Guardians if they are weaponized. They may also be Landmarks of Lore, especially if they represent characters from some myth or legend, or memorials of great kings or rulers. (Why are they usually in pairs? Perhaps because we humans like a certain amount of Fearful Symmetry.)

Not to be confused with Knights and Knaves, the classic puzzle where there are two portals, and two guardians (not always statues) that must be questioned which is the correct path.


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    Anime And Manga 
  • Inuyasha: Two giant statues (Gozu and Mezu) guard the gate to the demon's netherworld and come to life whenever approached. They state that if anyone wants entry to the netherworld, they must first be slain, as Kagura found this out the hard way. The statues, however, let Sesshomaru pass through freely due to him owning the Tenseiga, a sword that has the ability to cut down anything that's not technically "alive".
  • The statues at the entrance of the Final Valley in the Naruto series, flanking a waterfall, depict two antagonists of an ancient mythic battle that created the valley.

    Comic Books 
  • In The Rise of Kylo Ren comic book series, Luke Skywalker, Ben Solo, and Lor San Tekka visited a Jedi outpost on Elphrona. The comic depicts it as looking much like the temple at Petra in Jordan, except that there were two giant Jedi statues on either side of the entrance.

    Film — Animated 
  • In Animalympics, the path to the Animalympic Stadium is flanked by statues of past atheletes, ending with two elephant discus-throwers whose trunks form the arch of the main entrance.

    Films — Live-Action 

  • In the Port of Gont in the EarthSea trilogy, the land entrance to the city is flanked by two dragon statues.
  • The Lord of the Rings:
  • In the series of children's books Puddle Lane, the ornate gates leading into the Magician's garden have stone swans on the gateposts (which come alive in one of the stories).
  • The Stormlight Archive: The legendary Oathgate teleporters look like empty platforms in the physical world, but in the Cognitive Realm, the Spren powering them appear as a pair of titanic Living Statues that float overhead. Crucially, they can grant or deny use of the Oathgate at will.

    Live-Action TV 

    Tabletop Games 

    Video Games 
  • The entrance to Kirkwall in Dragon Age II is flanked by two giant bronze statues of weeping slaves. This is because the city had historically been the main hub of slave trade for centuries during the heyday of the Tevinter Imperium, before the slaves finally rebelled and formed an independent city-state. The statues are a somber reminder of the city's dark past.
  • Dungeon Keeper 2: The portal from the Underworld to the surface lands - the Villain Protagonist's ultimate goal - is flanked by a pair of stone knights. They also turn out to be the portal's last line of defense.
  • Hero of Sparta II has sphinx statues in the Egypt levels, showing up in pairs facing each other where they'll attempt frying you with their eyes if you can't run past them in time. Said level is a rather direct reference to The Neverending Story.
  • In the 8-bit game Heavy on the Magick, doors are frequently flanked by two "guards pillars", that resemble skulls or heads atop columns. These can be questioned to gain a hint about the password that opens the door.
  • In King's Quest V: Absence Makes the Heart Go Yonder!, the path leading up two Mordak's castle is flanked by two giant cobra statues. They're actually more than they appear, with a pair of glowing eyes that fire lightning bolts at any intruders. The only way to get past them is by using the crystal you managed to get from Queen Icebella's cave after you defeated the yeti.
  • In Pokémon:
    • A pair of statues of a generic Pokémon, possibly modeled after Rhydon, flank the entrance to all of the Pokémon Gyms in every iteration of the Kanto and Sinnoh regions.
    • In Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver, the location preview for the Tin Tower shows the entrance flanked by two statues of the legendary Pokémon Ho-oh, which is eventually battled there.
  • The entrance to the lost city of Belur in the Uncharted: The Lost Legacy video games features two giant statues of Ganesh flanking a waterfall.
  • World of Warcraft:
    • Two giant dwarf king statues flank the sides of the southern entrance of Loch Modan.
    • The Dark Portal connecting the worlds of Azeroth and Draenor is flanked by reliefs of two hooded, looming figures, holding swords planted tip-first into the ground. (Who or what they represent never gets mentioned.)

    Web Originals 
  • SCP Foundation entry SCP-531 consists of seven pairs of brass statues of Egyptian-style cats, approximately 2½ feet high. When facing each other, they are relatively benign, however persons near them experience an extreme aversion to passing between them, and as such this psychological barrier is a good deterrent to keeping people out of any rooms beyond. If however the line of sight between the two statues is broken, an observer will feel compelled to meet the gaze of one of the orphaned statues themselves. Once the gaze is met, they will be unable to break their gaze and will be physically transmuted into a duplicate SCP-531 over the course of approximately one hour.

    Western Animation 
  • In the series Avatar: The Last Airbender, the Great Gates of Azulon was a giant flaming net guarding the port of the capital city of the Fire Nation, supported by two giant dragon statues on either side and a giant statue of Azulon in the center.
  • In Centaurworld, the Rift portal connecting the human world and Centaurworld is flanked by two statues of human women on the Centaur side. (On the human side, it's flanked by statues of two centaur women.)
  • In the "Gathering" episode of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Yoda takes padawan younglings to the mysterious Crystal Cave of Ilum, where they will seek the khyber crystals to create their own lightsabers. The entrance to the caves is a large circular chamber with two giant statues of Jedi on either side.
  • In Disney's Talespin, The lost city of Tenabulon has a giant pair of stone scarabs on either side of it's main entry. The wings of the scarabs function as the city's gates and will open or close depending on what notes are played on the control bells.

    Real Life 
  • The Assyrians had "lamassu", sphinxes with the head of a man, body of a bull, and wings of an eagle, flanking important gates and entryways. The famous Palace Gate of Nimrud is an example.
  • Egyptians liked to flank the openings to palaces or temples with two (or sometimes four or more) giant statues of either gods or Pharaohs. (Examples: The temples of Luxor and Abu Simbel.) That's why some historians believe there may have also been a second sphinx at Giza.
  • It's common for two guardians (often gods, demons, or lions, or often elephants) to flank the entrances to Thai temples, and elephants are often seen flanking the entrances to other buildings or plazas.
  • Twin lions, dragons, or "fu dogs" (stylized lions that look like dogs) are often seen as guardians of ancient Chinese temples.
  • Lion statues
    • One of the entrances of the Hittite capital city of Hamusa was called "The Lion Gate" for its statues of two lions on either side of it.
    • The New York City Library lion statues are a famous example, on either side of the entrance to the library.
    • A pair of lion statues at the entrance to the Art Institute in Chicago.
    • A pair of lion statues at the entrance to the Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina.
    • The Lion's Gate Bridge in Vancouver, British Columbia, has two art deco lions on each end of the bridge.
    • There are two large square columns topped by lions on either side of Delmar Avenue, the east entrance to University City, Missouri (a suburb of St. Louis).
    • The Medici Lions, a pair of lion statues guarding the entrance of the Loggia Dei Lanzi in Florence, Italy; one dates back to the Ancient Romans, while its counterpart was produced much later, in the 16th century, by sculptor Flaminio Vacca (commissioned by the Medici Family). Copies of the Medici lions have been made and publicly installed in over 30 other locations.
  • The Guardians of Traffic, in Cleveland, Ohio are giant Art Deco statues flanking the Hope Memorial Bridge.
  • Twin griffons guard the Bank Bridge in St. Petersburg, Russia.
  • The Art Deco "Winged Guardians" at Hoover Dam are a famous example.
  • The statues of Castor and Pollux, flanking the entrance to the Piazza del Campidoglio in Rome, are literally twin statues.
  • The famous Elephant Gate in Copenhagen, Denmark, at the entrance to the Carlsberg Brewery (somewhat famous for featuring pre-WWII, non-Nazi swastikas).
  • The original entrance to the "Hollywood Pictures Backlot" (now "Hollywood Land") in Disney's California Adventure in Anaheim California once featured two statues of elephants at the tops of pillars, a tribute to director D. W. Griffith's 1916 silent film Intolerance. (They were likely removed as a backlash from Griffith's racist legacy, but the pedestals remain. Similar statues at the Ovation Mall in Hollywood were removed for the same reason.)
  • The gates to Hampton Court Palace in England (former residence of Henry VIII) have statues of a lion and a unicorn. Because Great Britain.
  • The Carreras Cigarette Factory in Camden, London, UK (now converted into offices) is built in Egyptian Art Deco style, and has statues of two giant black cats guarding the entrance.
  • "The Gate of Giants": Two enormous statues stand on either side of the entrance to Prague castle in the Czech Republic. Each statue actually depicts two Titans, locked in combat.